Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday tabled a fresh bill in Parliament to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among a section of Muslims amid opposition from parties including the Congress to the proposed law. He maintained the bill “is in the national interest” while Congress leader Shashi Tharoor expressed doubt if Parliament had the competence and jurisdiction to bring such a law.The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, provides for a three-year jail term for those found guilty of following the practice. It would supersede an earlier bill that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government had managed to get passed in Lok Sabha in December last year. The previous bill sought to make instant divorce a punishable, cognizable and a non-bailable offence. The government was forced to issue an ordinance or executive order to criminalise the practice in September 2018 after failing to have the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. The revised bill includes bail provisions as part of attempts to soften some aspects of the proposed law. Tharoor opposed the introduction of the fresh bill saying “it has no procedural safeguards to prevent its misuse”. He added the bill “conflates civil law with criminal law by criminalising a wrong form of divorce and by criminalising an act which is already legally null and void”. The Supreme Court banned the instant divorce, calling the practice “unconstitutional” in August 2017. Tharoor called the proposed law “an attempt in creating a class-specific legislation on the grounds of religion, instead of focusing on the larger issue of mistreatment and desertion of wives and dependents”.Prasad argued that “despite the Supreme Court’s order making Triple Talaq [instant divorce] illegal, there is rampant use of instant triple talaq against women.” He cited cases of divorce through instant messaging service, WhatsApp, even on the grounds that a husband did not get bread in time. “We have discussed and thought about the issue and decided to bring the bill. There is a penal provision in the bill but we have improved it.” “The legislation would help in ensuring the larger constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help subserve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment,” said the new bill’s statement of objects and reasonsSeparately, Lok Sabha was on Monday adjourned for the day after passage of the Transgenders Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, amid din as the opposition members demanded, including a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into Rafale deal.